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3.3 out of 5 stars
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3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 10 March 2014
Why use a few words when millions are available? This gets 2 stars for giving a lot of practice at skimming. Much of the text and scenarios are very repititious and I only finished it out of stubborness and so I could give an honest review of the whole book. There was always a potential for a really good ending but no it just finished in a very predictable way. Not an author I will try again.
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on 12 October 2007
Whilst I am certainly no literary authority or critic, I am a big fan of H.P Lovecraft's work and mythos fiction in general.

I have focused primarily on my experience of the book in order to avoid spoiling the plot for potential readers.

As stated in Amazon's synopsis the story unfolds with the discovery of mummies during an archaeological dig. From there things go from bad to worse with the subsequent discovery of a pre-human civilisation.

What really struck me about Tim Curran's Hive is the intensity of the atmosphere. I had a vivid sense of the character's vulnerability as they were marooned at the south pole without the possibility of intervention from the outside world during the long Antarctic winter months. Alongside feeling the vulnerability of the character's in such precarious circumstances, I was left with potent feelings of isolation, claustrophobia and paranoia.

The sense of isolation, paranoia and claustrophobia not to mention impending calamity, was for me strongly reminiscent of John Carpenter's The Thing, most especially in terms of the paranoia the character's experience.

Given that Hive is a full length publication rather than a short story which the majority of mythos based publications are, the author has plenty of room to gradually build the atmosphere. This I feel Curran does to great effect.

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the use of `pseudo' science and scientific terms in the story. There was a nice level of detail concerning the archaeological dig, technology itself and findings. For me that added a level of credibility and believability as a result I became more immersed in what was unfolding. Descriptions of the species found in mummified form, along with discussions about them were dealt with intelligently without being overly complex. I got just enough information to suspend my disbelief and submerge myself into the atmosphere.

A hugely effective element is the blatant sense of cosmic dread engendered in the turn of events that unfold for the main characters. Each progressive discovery leads to increasingly bleak revelations. Anyone familiar with Lovecraft will know that the notion of a cold, neutral universe that is fundamentally indifferent and uncaring towards human life and suffering underpins anything that can be referred to as truly mythos based or Lovecraftian. Hive definitely has that in abundance albeit with a slightly sinister elaboration thrown in.

Time for a small gripe, some of the sardonic humour dialogue is at times a little cheesy, over facetious, self indulgent and doesn't work that well.

One major question that needs to be asked by Lovecraft and mythos fans; is this really a sequel to the Mountains Of Madness?

I would say yes and no. As much as I enjoyed Lovecraft's Mountains Of Madness I have felt each time I read it that there is an excess of detail with the atmosphere being built to a crescendo without anything really happening. Sacrilege in some people's eyes no doubt!

Hive was different for me in that there was less detail than ATMM, but enough to build a strong sense of suspense and allow for more to actually happen. In many ways including some of the vivid gore depicted in Hive, Curran is a great deal more direct than Lovecraft. Then again how many contemporary authors are capable of the fabulous, lofty eloquence of H.P Lovecraft?

Hive in my experience was something of a hybrid combining the best elements of ATMM and The Thing. It was refreshing to read something mythos orientated that was not a short story and therefore had scope to build a pervasive atmosphere of menace, dread, isolation, paranoia.....

As a finale I will re-iterate that Hive has a potent atmosphere evoking a cosmic sense of dread juxtaposed alongside primal instinctive fears.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and found it to be refreshing to read mythos fiction in a full length rather than short story format for a change. I would definitely recommend this to Lovecraft and mythos fans as well as those who enjoyed John Carpenter's The Thing.
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on 11 October 2014
TL;DR I wanted to like this book more than I actually did.

"At the Mountains of Madness" is my favourite Lovecraft story and when I found this modern-day successor I was really happy.

Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to expectations.

It starts well, but seems to get stuck in a loop and I found it was extremely difficult to motivate myself to keep reading. It's extremely long, far longer than it needs to be - though it could be a clever writing device by the author to make it feel like I was stuck in Antarctica too! The story could be told just as well in maybe 1/2 the length, a lot of it was waffle or padding which made the whole story drag badly.

It's actually three stories. There's a modern day base, an expedition in the 1920's (before Mountains of Madness) and the third story is another 1920's expedition. In all honesty these 1920's ones are actually really good, I enjoyed them more than the modern day main plotline - but they really break up the main plot because of where they are positioned in the book.I would have preferred them to be either sold as supporting novellas or included at the end as additional material.

The Lovecraft subject matter (if you think of the story as half Antarctic survival and half Lovecraft horror you're pretty close) wasn't very well executed in my opinion. I don't want to spoiler the plot but Tim Curran has taken his interpretation of the original material and just run away with it, and it really takes it very far away from the original material. It feels unfocussed and a bit contradictory at times, though it's later explained that the things that seem contradictory aren't really "because XYZ complex plot fixes".

There's a lot of poorly written "worker" type characters who seem to swear a lot and stir up trouble to illustrate their working class background (I'm not sure why anyone that unstable would be sent to spend 4 months cut off in Antarctica), and the scientists are essentially useless and just there to exposition important plot points for the most part. There's conspiracy theories mixed with heads exploding, ghosts, vivisection and various other things. Essentially there's too much going on. None of the characters have any real depth except one that seems to be some sort of Mary Sue when it comes to innate skills and abilities.

So, I don't really know how many stars to give it. 3 because when it's good it's quite good, but 2 because the rest of the time it's really quite bad.
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on 17 July 2013
For fans of HPL's original At The Mountains Of Madness this isn't a half-bad attempt at writing a sequel to one of his all-time great novellas.

It suffers from the (re)inclusion for this 'special edition' of the previously edited 70,000 extra words, which are most likely the cause of it getting somewhat repetitive at points, especially during the flashbacks to earlier expeditions and generally too long overall, and the sheer amount of similes can get a bit tiresome - why use just one when 4 or 5 will do? It could definitely do with re-editting down to whatever shape it was originally in on it's release.

The previous reviewer mentioned it's other influences beyond the obvious source, namely John Carpenter's version of 'The Thing' and the excellent 'Quatermass and the Pit' - both of which are strongly felt in the story, but then again they *do* both work well within the story, and there's little doubt that both John W Campbell Jr (the original author of 'Who Goes There' which became The Thing and was written 2 years after the release of ATMOM) and Nigel Kneale (writer of the Quatermass series) drew inspiration from HPL's work in the first place.

So despite some reservations it's a good story, obviously written with a lot of passion and skill and just in need of a good editor to trim it down and reign in some of the verbal excesses - but then again, HPL himself was hardly shy of a few literary excesses when it came do describing the indescribable ;)

Worth a read.
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on 5 February 2013
Hmmmm....."The Hive" is not one of Tim Curran's better novels. A sequel to "At the Mountains of Madness" it just doesn't work as a novel. It is far too long with large sections of what i'd call descriptive padding to extend the story. I could almost sympathise with some of the characters as I trudged through page upon page of nothing much happening, "god it's cold" and "ahhhh...my mind". I kept thinking "i've read or seen this before". And I have. At the Mountains of Madness, The Thing and Quatermass and the Pit did it much much better. Really, really disappointed with this.
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on 12 July 2015
This story concerns fictional creatures that were created back in the 30s by H P Lovecraft and it's great to see the story continued in this way. The scope of this story is huge. Especially good if liked films such as The Thing and Alien.
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on 12 August 2015
Ok I resisted the powerful urge to give up on this book about half way through in hopes it would get better...
I don't like to be hard on an author but what we have here is a mishmash of elements of the alien franchise mixed with both versions of the movie 'the thing' I've watched both versions so really didn't need to inflict this story on myself. Don't get me wrong the base idea was good but the simple fact is that it reads like novelised version of the thing is what let's it down. I suppose anyone who hasn't seen the Kurt Russell version would like the story but for me, Hayes always had Kurt Russell's face.
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on 8 June 2009
You know when a really original monster or SF movie comes out, and the next thing you know, the cheapy studios are churning out direct-to-video knock offs? HIVE is rather like that.

While Tim Curran is to be commended on his taste, in that he likes to borrow from the classics of the genre, his lack of originality is shocking. HIVE is a literary chimera featuring the background of Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness", the plot of "Quatermass and the Pit", and the setting and characters of John Carpenter's "The Thing". Very little effort is made to disguise these borrowings; in fact it was quite easy for me to predict the plot points of the novel simply by picking the juiciest points from all three of the above stories.

This isn't to say it's a bad book, merely an unoriginal one. Curran seems to have realised that if you're going to steal, you should only steal the best, though I still think it's a cardinal sin to do so in such an obvious manner. If you enjoy schlocky SF and horror, lazily written with rubber monsters, dodgy CGI and bad actors, then this book should capture that experience perfectly. Just turn your brain off and break out the popcorn.
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on 15 November 2010
Jimmy Hayes is a contractor that takes care of the machinery that keeps the Kharkhov Station at the South Pole running. He's a no-nonsense type of guy amid others of the same on one side, and the scientists on the other. He's the novel's focal point that the story revolves, and is the type of character that can move in both the scientific and the contractor circles. The story doesn't take any time getting started. Within the very first pages, Gates, one of the scientists, has made a fantastic discovery. He has discovered some pre-human non-human mummies at one of his dig sites.

He's bringing them right back to the station, and Hayes, along with his friend Lind, is one of the first to see them. They are barrel shaped, star-headed, and while obviously dead, seem to radiate a miasma of pure malignant evil that effects all that come within range of them, and nobody is more effected than Lind, of whom Hayes will witness the gradually loss of mind and life.

But Lind is only the first, as anxiety, nightmares, sleeplessness, and death slowly begins to infect all of the station's personnel. As the mummies begin to affect the station's personal, Hayes becomes a thorn in the side to the station's camp commander LaHune. His constant companion and confidant through all of this will be the compact and red-haired Doc Sharkey, the only woman at the station. As the events begin to escalate, they will become occasional lovers, allies, and lone warriors against the revived ancient threat.

This was the novel that got me hooked on reading Curran, and it was before I read his weird sea masterpiece Dead Sea. Curran doesn't go for big shocks here; he takes his time to slowly build up the creep factor, along with throwing us the odd spectacularly weird event to keep things moving. "Hive" is a sequel to H. P. Lovecraft's novella At the Mountains of Madness (Modern Library): The Definitive Edition, a novella that Hayes obliquely references many times throughout the novel. Lovecraft's novella is famous for moving as slow as molasses in January, while building up the suspense slowly through the accumulation of the details of the ancient city. Curran does the same thing. If you expect a slam-bang action novel you will be disappointed. Curran goes for a science-fiction horror through the accumulation of detail as we truly see just how the mummies are affecting the very reality of the people that are inhabiting the station.

Curran is also a middle-class working man, and so this novel is told through the eyes of a hard working everyman. This novel's prose is often extremely dense, yet the story never slows. The story also concentrates on a nuts-and-bolts working man's viewpoint, therefore we meet more of the contractors and fewer of the scientists than most novels of this type. A positive is that the contractors often have the earthy way of talking that working class people often talk. True there are a few too many dopey analogies, and a little too much foul language, but, factory workers will often talk this way. And the novel is full of quotable prose like "The night was alive with viscid shadows and creeping shapes and the wind was full of voices. He could hear them calling him through that blowing white death . . ."

Despite being the novel's focal point and hero, Hayes is hardly a larger-than-life, completely competent hero. He's often desperate, afraid, and has to have his life saved at least three times by Sharkey. His heart is in the right place, but he clearly wasn't cut out to save the world.

And while there have been many that have commented on that the plot of this novel often resembles John Carpenter's movie The Thing [DVD] [1982], right down to lifting a number of scenes, the novel more closely resembles the movie "Twenty Million Years To Earth", as it is known here in America or as it is known in England, Quatermass And The Pit [DVD] [1967]). This would include the ancient hive race, ancient experiments of human ancestors, the complete takeover of the purest of the stock, and the subsequent purging of the impure after an attempt of the aliens to recapture their property.

While the story takes it's time to build, and is seemingly mired in details, it is never dull, and it does build to a satisfying conclusion. This is a working-class novel that should be on any weird adventure, science-fiction horror, or Lovecratian's book shelf. Somebody really should reprint this in a mass print edition.

The cover is by long-time small-press and Lovecraftian artist Dave Carson and is totally poster worthy.
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on 6 April 2015
An enjoyable cosmic horror tale. I detected influences and elements from several of my favourite stories in this genre; notably Nigel Kneale's "Quatermass and the Pit", Basil Copper's "The Great White Space" and John Carpenter's remake of the classic film, "The Thing", all woven together in a Lovecraftian style of telling.
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